Winter Solstice, powerful stillness
A powerful confluence of energies
Today we are on the cusp of a vastly important confluence of energies. Tonight the convergence of the winter solstice and a total lunar eclipse of a full moon, an astrological event which has not happened for 372 years, combine with Ursids meteor shower.
This atypical darkness on the night of a full moon will allow viewing of the meteor shower during the eclipse, showing us some bright “falling stars” in an otherwise dark sky.
The lunar eclipse, in which the Earth’s shadow completely blocks out the moon, is visible from North America tonight starting at 1:32 AM EST and lasts until 3:53 AM with the total eclipse beginning at 2:41 AM during which the moon will appear to change colors, most noticeably to bright orange-red. Innocently, the moon will change colors due to the light filtering through Earth’s atmosphere and reflecting on the moon’s dull surface. However, it will create an eerie sight hinting of strange omens.
The Winter Solstice marks the cosmic transition from dark to light, while the eclipse acts as an accelerator, speeding up events and forcing necessary changes in our lives. In addition, the full moon signifies completion, encouraging us to start fresh with expanded consciousness.
The solstice is celebrated among the ancients as a turning point
Many, many cultures the world over perform solstice ceremonies. At their root an ancient fear that the failing light would never return unless humans intervened with anxious vigil or antic celebration . . . No one’s really sure how long ago humans recognized the winter solstice and began heralding it as a turning point — the day that marks the return of the sun. One delightful little book written in 1948, 4,000 Years of Christmas, puts its theory right up in the title. The Mesopotamians were first, it claims, with a 12-day festival of renewal, designed to help the god Marduk tame the monsters of chaos for one more year.
Of course we no longer consciously fear that the light will never return, but our ancestral subconscious may still retain threads of that fear. So it remains important that we celebrate this turning point every year from darkness into light. The darkness has been necessary as a time of stillness, hibernation, and gathering in to bring about a revitalization. Yet we resist both the darkness and it’s gifts.
The myth of darkness
It’s not that darkness necessarily breeds evil (so our horror movie genre would lead us to believe) and so we must celebrate the returning of the light lest we be swallowed by evil. Rather the darkness breeds fear, and the chaotic energies of this time of year are fueled by it. When it becomes dark at the end of the day as well as the end of the year we are at our most vulnerable. Some cultures believe that this is the time when obstructing spirits descend upon us, worsening the chaos in our world. It is especially at this time that we must call upon the energies that will bring back the light both literally and metaphorically.
Be silent, be still
In particular we can honor this time of year by slowing down and being gentle with ourselves. One of my yoga teachers, Shawna Suzyn, says:
This is a time of year that often weighs heavy on our minds & bodies; a time when we often succumb to over-committing, being too busy, and have a resistance to slowing down and taking good care of ourselves. Yet, if we align ourselves with the natural cycle of darkness and our heart’s call to go inside, we can soften into the inner quiet and connect to the inner light that will truly nourish us: body, mind, heart and soul.
Some suggestions for connecting with the inner light during this darkest time of year are:
- a deep yoga practice to energize & harmonize the body
- deep relaxation
- ritual (create your own or join in another’s)
- contemplation in preparing for the new year
The new cycle of light begins tonight in the light of a full moon. Take advantage of this unique convergence of energies to clarify your vision for the New Year, take deep care of yourself andbe gentle.